Fuel and forecourt retailer Applegreen says that it's giving Irish drivers the chance to offset their emissions with a new product called PowerPlus fuel.
A responsibility to act sustainably
"As a fuel retailer, we feel a responsibility to think and act more sustainably and we are taking steps to address our most material issues, among which are carbon reduction and climate change," said Joe Barrett, Chief Operating Officer of Applegreen. The idea behind PowerPlus is that the emissions from burning it in your car's engine will be, theoretically, offset by paying for carbon-reduction projects around the world, as well as tree-planting programmes in Ireland.
"For every litre of PowerPlus that is purchased at our pumps, we will offset those fuel emissions and give our customers the opportunity to drive CarbonNeutral," Mr Barrett said. "This programme accelerates our sustainability journey in line with our transition to cleaner energy including electricity - a key element of the UN's Sustainability Development Goals."
PowerPlus won't be the cheapest form of fuel you can buy - Applegreen describes it as a premium product, that also includes additives which claim to clean your engine and improve overall fuel economy. Quite how many drivers will go for the pricier pump remains to be seen.
Supporting carbon-reduction projects in Africa
To get the CarbonNeutral certification, Applegreen says that it's supporting projects such as a clean-water initiative in East Africa which promises to cut some 100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. The company is working with the global climate finance and carbon-neutral specialist Natural Capital Partners to purchase carbon offset credits from Irish N.G.O. Vita, whose project involves restoring community water points to provide easy access to clean water for families in East Africa. This reduces the need to burn fuel wood, resulting in deforestation, in order to boil water.
Vita's Chairperson, Dermot Byrne, commented on the partnership with Applegreen: "We are delighted to be part of Applegreen's shift towards sustainable driving. This prescient initiative not only creates carbon emissions savings in East Africa, it also facilitates those communities to 'drive' their own development."
While doubts have been raised in some quarters about just how effective carbon offsetting can be, the Department Of Agriculture regards such programmes, when properly audited, as playing a "valuable role" for organisations and individuals who are trying to achieve carbon neutrality.
300,000 trees to be planted in Ireland
In addition, Applegreen has announced that it will be planting 300,000 native trees including Pedunculate Oak, Birch, Scots Pine, Rowan, Holly and Hazel, around Ireland over the next three years, beginning in selected locations in Limerick and Mayo later this year. This includes planting one tree for every tonne of carbon generated by the use of PowerPlus fuel, with a minimum of 100,000 trees per year and no upper limit on the number of trees to be planted.
Applegreen's forest creation commitment supports the Irish Government's Woodland Environmental Fund (WEF) which is designed to encourage more landowners to create new native woodlands. Applegreen is one of the largest Irish contributors to the WEF programme to date.
It's part of Applegreen's commitment to investing €1.5 million in carbon reduction programmes over the next three years. "In launching our CarbonNeutral programme, we have selected climate initiatives that will deliver tangible benefits," said Applegreen's Joe Barrett. "If all customers purchase PowerPlus fuel where it is available, our corresponding carbon reduction initiatives would be equivalent to reducing emissions from 180,000 cars, which amounts to almost 10% of the entire national car population.
"Through this programme, we are offering customers a simple solution to drive change," said Mr Barrett. "By putting carbon into neutral, we can all reduce our environmental impact today and help to leave a lasting, positive legacy for future generations."